Democratisation of the arts: 2013 Adelaide Festival Programme is diverse and exciting

Adelaide Festival Artistic Director David Sefton. Image: supplied
Adelaide Festival Artistic Director David Sefton. Image: supplied

Since 1960 The Adelaide Festival has been a biennial event. That changes in 2013 with The Festival going annual in the first of David Sefton's three years at the reins.

Sefton comes to Adelaide with some positive baggage: he was until recently the Executive and Artistic Director of UCLA Live –  the successful Performing Arts program of the University of California in Los Angeles. He was also the Head of Contemporary Culture at the Royal Festival Hall on London’s South Bank, where he produced their annual MELTDOWN Festival, so his expertise will no doubt be of great benefit to Adelaide and Australia as a whole.

The 2013 Adelaide Festival takes place from Friday March 1 until Sunday March 17 and will feature 53 events, 29 of which are exclusive to Adelaide and 27 of which are Australian premieres. A grand total of 314 performances from over 1000 artists and writers will be on show at this Festival of Festivals, and (as usual) you'd be mad to miss it.

[pull_left]The programme is in keeping with Sefton's bold, signature spirit; the democratisation of the arts[/pull_left]

The programme is in keeping with Sefton's bold, signature spirit; the democratisation of the arts. In each of the 5 festival categories audiences can look forward to performances from artists and writers across the genre divide.


For music lovers Sefton has gathered the likes of Paul Kelly and Neil Finn who will both play at the free opening night concert at Elder Park.

Also featured will be a series of concerts drawn from the New York indie/artist community and the record label Brassland, established by brothers Aaron & Bryce Dessner – best known for their work with The National and American writer Alec Hanley Bemis. Sefton's penchant for encouragement and collaboration will see many of the Brassland artists accompanied by the chameleon Adelaide Art Orchestra.
Other musical highlights include Unsound Adelaide, another series of concerts but with a focus on electronic music combined with visuals. A pointed example being a performance by Australian Ben Frost with Icelander Daniel Bjarnason and their arrangement of the soundtrack for Solaris as performed by the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra supported with “film manipulations” by the internationally renown Brian Eno with Australian Director Nick Robertson.

The ASO will also perform the score of 2001: A Space Odyssey with the Adelaide Chamber Singers, led by British conductor Robert Ziegler.

America's Van Dyke Parks (best known for his collaborations with Brian Wilson and The Beach Boys) will perform a retrospective of his musical career featuring appearances from Silverchair's Daniel Johns and a re-formed Severed Heads.

Other musical acts include Archie Roach, The Australian String Quartet, Balkan performer Goran Bregovic with an 18-piece gypsy orchestra, Moravian fiddler and singer Iva Bittova, classical guitarists Karin Schaupp and Pavel Steidl while 2013 will mark the 40th active year of Kronos Quartet.


Nosferatu. Photographer Stefan Okolowicz

eratu. Photographer Stefan Okolowicz

Theatre aficionados can look forward to a production of the vampire classic Nosferatu – but this 'Count Dracula' will be performed in Polish (with english surtitles) by the TR Warszawa theatre company and directed by compatriot Grzegorz Jarzyna in an Australian premiere, exclusive to Adelaide.

Hotel Modern from The Netherlands will present Kamp – a representation of the holocaust in a highly original theatrical manner – thousands of 8 centimetre high puppets brought to life in a scale model of a Nazi death camp.


Musical Theatre is represented at the 2013 Festival with two outstanding international productions performed at The German Club.

First, BeowulfA Thousand Years Of Baggage by American ensemble-based theatre company Banana Bag & Bodice and secondly Britain's National Theatre of Scotland presentation of The Strange Undoing of Prudencia Hart.

Other noteworthy theatrical performances include a co-production between Adelaide's Brink Productions and Britain's English Touring Theatre company based on the story of South Australian Gill Hicks who lost both her legs in the July 2005 London Underground bombings titled Thursday. Australian puppetry company Erth perform Murder – inspired by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds'  1996 album Murder Ballads. Barry Otto performs The Kreutzer Sonata a one-hander based on the novella by Leo Tolstoy. Also, in a one-off event, experimental artist Laurie Anderson brings her philosophical portrait Dirtday! to The Festival for its Australian premiere another exclusive to Adelaide.


6000 Miles Away. Photographer Bill Cooper
6000 Miles Away. Photographer Bill Cooper

For those enamored with professional Dance, Sefton promises his customary blend of traditional and contemporary.

Belgium's Wim Vandekeybus remounts his internationally acclaimed What The Body Does Not Remember. Sylvie Guillem dances a trilogy in 6000 miles choreographed by Mats Ek, William Forsythe and Jini Kylián. Australian dance Theatre's world premiere of Skeleton choreographed by Australian Larissa McGowan explores the hidden stories of pop-cultural icons. Spain's Carlos Saura presents his latest production Flamenco Hoy. A vigorous exploration of every facet of flamenco dancing – past, present and future in this Australian premiere.


An International array of writers will again congregate under the tents at the Pioneer Women's Memorial Garden for Adelaide Writers' Week from Saturday 2nd March through to Thursday 7th March. Although the Writers' Week schedule won't be announced until late January, some of the attending authors include Edward St Aubyn, Tom Holland, Dennis Lehane, A. M. Homes, Thomas Keneally, Ramona Koval, John Tranter and Stuart Littlemore.

The capstone of the Visual Arts field is the Art Gallery of South Australia's presentation of Turner from the Tate: The Making of a Master. An exhibition of J.M.W. Turner's art, “the painter of light” whose work is generally considered a Romantic preface to the 19th-century Impressionism art movement.
The popular club Barrio will again provide its turn of market place, bar, stage, dance floor and nightly entertainment from local and international artists and DJs. However, The Barrio programme won't be released until mid-January 2013.

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